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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Moments of Knowing

"You hear that?" the boy asks.

The drumbeats carry across the air. It is the signal of a wedding procession going on somewhere in Nicosia. If it's a traditional summer Cypriot wedding, it will end at some open air arena, where the party will go on until the early hours of the morning.

I look at Mr X's daughter's fiancé. "Summer comes, so do the weddings," I say.

He nods, and takes another sip from his beer. "I thought that might be me next year," he replies.

"It still might be. Though I think you're crazy wanting to get married so young."

He nods, looking around the bar. "I've never been here before."

"It's a well-kept secret." I had decided to take the boy for a drink before I made my way home to B. There are not many drink-houses in Nicosia, the pubs are mainly situated in the tourist hotspots of Kyrenia and Famagusta, and if you want a drink you either have to buy from a convenience store or go to a restaurant with an in-house bar.

He looks surprised. "I didn't know we had a pub in Nicosia."

"The owner is a Greek Cypriot guy who decided to move to the North after retiring from Scotland. He opened it as a hobby, and is known only to a few regulars." I indicate to the bartender to bring us the bill, but the worker smiles at us and shakes his head.

"Looks like the owner is a good friend of yours," the boy says.

I smile, raising a hand in thanks to the bartender. "You could say that."

"I- Can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"What keeps a woman hooked on to you?"

I give a whistle. "Whoa, that's a tough question. What makes you think I'd know?" He smiles at me, and I interpret it correctly. "Is that old story still doing the rounds?"

"You're a legend man."

"I know gossip travels fast and many people think my life is filled with drunken one-night stands with sex-fuelled vixens, that I've gone down some universal alphabet of female names. This is so far from the truth."

He shrugs his shoulders, not believing me. "Give me some sex tips then."

I shake my head slowly. "If the girl you love is going to be your life partner, someone to raise kids with, to grow old with, to share your vulnerabilities with, that takes a lot more than lust or being good in bed. The best way to keep a woman is to let her know you are hooked on her, that'll keep her hooked, too. It means that you're serious, in it for the long haul."

"You make it sound like such hard work."

"Nothing great comes easy, those great at love just make it look easy."

"I thought maybe you could help me. I don't want to lose her."

"I'm guessing your problem isn't in the bed, it's in the head. And in that place there are no guarantees. Sometimes you can even lose the love of your life. You find that the one that is meant to be, is not meant to be after all."

He looks into his glass. "Sounds as though you speak from experience."

"Women don't realise that the majority of men dream of being devoted lovers, happily sticking to the woman of their dreams. The wandering eye all of us men are branded with loses focus when a love supreme fills the soul cavity. But we are afraid, because it's so hard."

"So you found the woman of your dreams, and then lost her?"

I give a tight smile. "I thought we were talking about you?"

"Come on, man. So, how did you know?"

I drain my glass. My stomach sets off its growl from the stadium. "Know what?"

"Was there a moment when you really knew you loved her?"

I smile, trying to placate my hunger with some free munchies on the bar counter. "Who?"

"That girl. Whoever she was. The one."

"Ahh... her. The one. Well my moment was a little strange. Not like you read in the books."

He looks at me questioningly.

"Well if you read books," I correct, with a laugh. "They talk about a certain look - one that's a little coy, a little cocky, a little innocent, a little sophisticated, always subtle or some super woman that is going to be sexy, smart, talented, flirty and feminine all in one go that just takes your breath away."

"Was your woman like that?"

My mobile phone begins to ring. I'm sure it is B again, and as I take the call, I wince slightly as her loud voice fills the earpiece demanding to know where I am since we spoke last from the stadium.

"I decided to take our friend out for a drink. I'll be there in five minutes, B," I say, indicating to the boy to get up. Closing the phone, I say to him, "I've suddenly had an idea. Do you want me to take you back to your car, or do you want to come back to my place?"

"I don't think I'll be welcome."

"Maybe I can do something about that."

"Okay. Cool. Thanks."

I wave goodbye to the bartender as we exit the bar and make our way towards my car.

"So, was your woman like in those books?"

"Believe it or not, yes she was," I say quietly, putting the key into the car's ignition and starting its engine. "But I didn't fall in love with her because of those qualities. I'd forget her birthday, and she didn't mind, not pretend mind, y'know? She honestly didn't care. We could discuss anything too, Jet Li movies, former relationships and family stuff, character flaws and personal failings... I didn't have to bite my tongue, or fake anything. But I didn't fall in love with her because of that either."

"You could tell her anything?"

I nod, turning the steering wheel left to get on to the main road that leads directly home. "Faking it, even just in the little ways most of us do most of the time, takes effort, and it just tires you out at the end of the day. The rest of life is hard enough as it is, without having to tiptoe around the person you're lying next to in bed. I could tell her my weirdest dreams, my darkest thoughts, my very worst fears."

"She sounds amazing."

"Well, not amazing, but classy, in the old-fashioned way. In her career there is a lot of back-biting and competition, but I never saw her be disloyal, sling mud or lose her dignity. She understood me and knew how to handle me. Her libido was as high as mine, and she was a great cook, too."

The boy begins to laugh. "Okay, so I'm jealous! So, what made you know she was the one?"

I think for a moment, wondering whether I should share a private memory of mine with a complete stranger that I'd met only a few hours before. After all, this was something I hadn't even shared with B, although she had waited patiently for two years for me to talk about it.

I had felt uncomfortable talking about a woman with another woman; a certain old-fashioned etiquette I was shackled to had stopped me from doing something which I was about to do easily with someone from my own gender.

Our basic nature, like love, is sometimes very hard to fight, unless it's overcome by an even stronger force.

I clear my throat as I begin to recite the moment of my knowing. "She was making tea in my mum's kitchen, and we have an ant problem sometimes. They run about the counter's side. When she saw them, I expected her to scream or start to kill them or call me to do so. Very quietly she just watched them. I asked her what she was doing, and she told me she was letting them pass. As I watched this gentle act, something just clicked inside me. From that time on, I was hooked."

"Did you tell her?"

I apply the brake, and bring the car to a stop. We are home.

"Did you tell her?"

"No," I say, before getting out of the car. "And don't you make the same mistake. Make sure you tell her the moment you knew she was the one. I'm going to give you that chance now."

"Shall I get out?"

"Yes, but stay by the car for the moment, okay?"

He nods, as I grab my bag from the boot of the car, and locking the vehicle up I make my way up to the door of the kitchen. I peer through its glass panel and tap lightly on its aluminium frame.

B appears behind the glass, hands on hips, with a look on her face that says Should I let you in?

I shrug at her waving my keys. I got spare ones, Missy.

B opens the door, and is about to say something when I silence her with my free, right hand. "Where is she?"

As if on cue, Mr X's daughter comes into the kitchen. "Hello," she says.

I indicate her to come over to me, and take a step back to lead her outside. Whispering something in her ear, I point to her fiancé. She takes a long look at me, and I slowly nod.

B watches us, and then moves closer while the girl walks over to the boy, and they begin to talk. "And what did you two boys talk about all this time that's made her forgive him?"

"Us? Oh football and stuff."

"And stuff... I see."

"Well they call it the beautiful game..."

"What? Football or love?"

I look at B, startled by her perceptiveness.

"Both Missy," I say. "Now, what's that lovely smell coming from the kitchen?"

Main Index | Part one | End of part two | Part three

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